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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

180                                               MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

Fatal Period.—Death occurs in ten to twelve days if both water and food
are totally deprivedIf food alone is withdrawn life may be prolonged for
a long period, say from six to eight weeks or even more since some Jain
Sadhus are reported to have fasted for two to four months without taking
anything but boiled water during day time only. A middle-aged Jain woman -
of Mangrol (Saurashtra) died after a 135-day fast which she had undertaken
for self-purification. It is reported that Professor Bhansali fasted for sixty-two
days from November 11. 1942, to January 11, 1943. During the first fifteen
days of his fast he took neither food nor water and walked about ninety
miles. During the remaining period of forty-seven days he took only water.
His weight was 116 Ibs. before he started the fast and was 63 Ibs. three days
before he broke his fast. Mayor Me. Swiney abstained from food in Brixton
prison for seventy-five days before he died, while Jatindra Nath Das, the
accused in the Lahore conspiracy case, died in Borstal jail after sixty-one
days* hunger strike. This is, however, influenced by certain conditions,
such as age, sex, condition of the body and its environments.

Age.—Children suffer most from want of food. Old people require less
nourishment than young adults, and can, therefore, stand the deprivation of
food better, but not for a longer period owing to the weakening of their vital
functions.

Sex.—Females can withstand starvation for a longer period than males,
as they have a relatively greater amount of adipose tissue in their bodies,
and ordinarily consume less food.

Condition of the Body.—Fat stored up in the body is utilized as food for
the maintenance of life during starvation. It is, therefore, natural that
fatty, healthy people are likely to endure the withdrawal of food better and
longer than thin, lean and weak persons.

Environment of the Body.—The effects of starvation are not felt very
much so long as the body temperature is maintained by suitable clothing.
Exposure to cold tends to shorten the period of life. Exposure to excessive
heat also accelerates the onset of death, if a sufficient quantity of water is
not available. Starvation is well borne by those persons in whom the acti-
vity of their vital functions is lowered, as in the cataleptic. On the other
hand, active physical exertion during starvation hastens death.

Treatment—In persons suffering from prolonged starvation the digestive
processes have become very feeble; hence caution should be observed in
the administration of food. Solid food should not be given at once, as it is
likely to set up an attack of serious indigestion and even death. It is
advisable to give at first sips of hot water, and then to add gradually small
quantities of milk. Feeds should consist of small quantities at a time, and
should be repeated at frequent intervals. The simplest and most easily
digestible liquid foods should be given, and solid foods should be added
gradually and with care, when the stomach has regained the digestive
power. Warmth of the body should be maintained by the application of
hot water bottles, and by rubbing the surface gently with stimulating lotions.
Diffusible stimulants may be given hypodermically or by the mouth,

Post-mortem Appearances—External.—fee body is greatly emaciated,
and emits a disagreeable offensive odour. Hie eyes are dry, red and open,
the eyeballs being sunken. The cheeks and temples are hollow. The
tongue is dry and coated. Tbe skin is dry and shrivelled, and is, sometimes,
excoriated or ulcerated. Bed-sores are often present. The muscles are
pale, soft and wasted, and fat is almost completely absent in the subcuta-
neous and intraceHular tissues, as well as in the omentum, mesentery, and
about the internal organs, although some fat may be present in cases where

2.   Times of India, Oci 9,